Oh, Abigail! She didn't know how on the nose she would be when stating, "It's crazy. It's awkward. It's awful. I mean, I don't know, pick your adjective." She was talking about Laura's bombshell rocking the Horton-Deveraux homestead, but she could have easily said the same later about Laura's death rocking, well, Salem and beyond.
So, yep. In week two of February Sweeps, all my hopes for a fun, rambling Two Scoops sesh about crazy Auntie Viv and Kate were dashed. Thanks, Laura. Apparently, her desk death is a bigger deal than expected and also sparked some outrage on how soaps handle their elderly characters. And here I thought my biggest groan would be Beneo and Ciaraiet. Nope. So, let's talk some dead doctor Laura, since we must...
For starters, this all needs to be divided in order to be conquered. And a reminder is a perfect place to begin before I explain my feelings about the fallen. I'm a lifelong DAYS fan. Some of my earliest memories are watching it with my mother, who's been viewing since day one in 1965. I was born well over a decade later. That puts me in my early thirties if we're using soap math, and in this case, we'll be using soap math, thankyouverymuch.
That was all to say, in addition to my agelessness, I wasn't around for and, later, was too young to remember Laura's heydays. If you got to watch them, I'm jealous! I've read and heard they were epic and that she was basically the superstar of the show. That totally tracks. She was principally played by Susan Flannery, and you don't get much more epic or superstar than Susan Flannery. I'm familiar with her later work, and, wowza, the lady is a legend in every sense of the word. Respect.
With that out there, I know many fans were "devastated" by Laura's death, but, respectfully, I wasn't one of them. As I mentioned, her glory days peaked before my time. I was introduced to her catatonic character in the '90s. Once she woke, it didn't take long for me to find her borderline (if not flat-out-at-times) exasperating. She simply seemed full of breathy pearl-clutching, bumbling helplessness, and bad ideas, for the most part. Sure, she had some badass moments here and there, and I admired that she always stood her ground, but, in a sea of '90s DAYS craziness (and it was off-the-chain crazy back then), she wasn't the ship I was cheering for as it came into harbor. I didn't want her to sink, of course, but I saved the fanfare for other Salemites I'd grown to love.
That's not to say Laura doesn't hold a big part in DAYS history that I respect. She does. And I do. Though it wasn't even big. It was huge. From literally everything I've ever read or heard, Laura was part of what made DAYS Must-See-TV. The Mickey/Laura/Bill saga was a blockbuster. Tom helping to keep Michael's paternity a secret. The reveal after the accident. Mickey's breakdown, and so forth. It all sounds fan-freaking-tastic. When I read or hear about that version of Laura, I know I would have been a big -- no, no -- huge fan. Also, had I witnessed all that play out live, I'm sure I'd have more of a nostalgic draw to the character throughout the recasts and variations to her personality.
Still, fan-freaking-tastic-sounding and all, Laura of yesteryear wasn't my experience. Those are things I learned after the fact when studying up on the character's history upon meeting her at Pine Haven Sanitarium. It was a gripping tale, no doubt, but Laura is ultimately like a biscotti to me. While it's fine occasionally paired with an espresso, it's not my ideal treat, and I wouldn't miss it if I never had it again; however, I recognize others love biscotti (and Laura) and were upset. Well, let's talk through some of that grief...
Did Laura "have to" die? Nope. It was a creative decision. Did Ron Carlivati make the right one? That's up to individuals to decide. As I'm not overly emotionally invested, I see it several ways. From a writer's standpoint, I get it. He wanted to shock the audience but not take a key player off the field. In Salem 2022, despite her Hall of Fame status, Laura was not an MVP quarterback anymore. Her death would impact her loved ones, but the show would go on. Realistically, she hasn't been a regular or even heavily recurring character since the early '00s, and that was the creative choices of several writing regimes, not just Ron, so he can't be solely blamed for a relatively Laura-less Salem throughout the past few decades. I'd dare to say he made her final act memorable, as she dropped one hell of a bombshell on her family.
Personally, I think Laura living and Gwen gaslighting her (like she did to Abigail) would have been an interesting avenue to explore. It's certainly more Gwen's style, as well as a nod to Laura's similar storyline at the hands of Peter and Daniel Scott. Ah, the '90s! See what I mean? Crazy.
Plus, Laura living might have forced Gwen to grow. She'd have to choose -- a new life with her family, or revenge against one of its members. It could have been juicy, especially when you consider that Gwen needs -- like really needs -- psychiatric help, but would or could you even trust a shrink when one downright decimated your life?
There's certainly some aspect of a Stockholm Syndrome-ish thingy with Gwen, too. She's basically grown up brainwashed to believe what Tiff told her, and after her mother's death, she had nothing to hold onto but hate. Is there a point she should have known better? Maybe. Maybe not. Could Laura have helped her overcome that? Now we'll never know, but there's always Mar Mar.
In reality, there's also the fact that we don't know if Jaime Lyn Bauer wanted to stay on for a long stint or not. That could have affected decisions, too. And unless it's one of the past actors who played Laura, would a recast even work in such a storyline? Again, maybe. Maybe not.
Was her sendoff to soap heaven (or maybe soap hell) sublime? Again, it depends on who you ask. I don't think it was the greatest or the worst. It was better than an off-screen death, though, maybe we can all agree on that?
Technically, however, we still don't know all the details of said sendoff. Laura and Gwen confronted one another. Gwen was pissed. Laura wanted to peace out. Gwen grabbed her shoulders to stop her while spouting "revenge!" AND commercial. The next thing we saw was a dazed Gwen and a dead Laura. That doesn't mean Gwen shoved her. It doesn't mean she didn't. It could have been a tragic accident. It simply means we don't know and will find out in time.
To play devil's advocate, though, if one of your favorite characters was going to be written off the show, would you rather see them fade into near obscurity, have an off-screen death, and have several Salemites go away for a funeral (Hi, Bill Horton), or would you rather have their death impact a storyline? Like it or not, Laura's death did that. People are talking. Talking about the show can entice people to tune in to see what all the fuss is about, so, there's that. Sure, it can also cause people to quit watching, but how many times does someone make that dramatic declaration and actually stick to it? There's that, too. I dunno. Just throwing things out there.
Was this all to prop a new character? Sure, I say with a shrug. Maybe. I get that Gwen hasn't been a gift from the Soap Gods for many fans. Some love her. Some hate her. Some love to hate her. I've even seen her coined as this generation's Dr. Dan, and, dudes, I get that reference. He quickly surfed into my heart then just as quickly wiped out in it. Yet that insufferable sack stuck around for a long, long, long time, and his presence changed the personality and actions of way too many characters in the process. I've noticed some recent shifts I'm not in love with (Hi, Easily Duped Chad), but Gwen isn't full "Jonas" to me yet, although I get where others are coming from, and I'm sorry for their stress. If I wasn't still overcoming my Dr. Dude PTSD and continuing to cower each time I see a puka shell necklace, I might have more energy to dislike Gwen and grab a cyber pitchfork, too.
Kidding aside, because of Emily O'Brien's likeability and talents, I've been patient with Gwen, but I'm still largely indifferent. As I see it, a character I'm lukewarm about might have killed a character I am also lukewarm about and have hardly ever see, so I haven't gotten overheated about any of it yet. Gwen's been in one very long storyline. That's it. What we see next might be the make-or-break point for me.
And finally, I was asked to ponder, was Laura's death disrespectful to elderly characters or does DAYS have an ageism issue? My knee-jerk reaction to this was laughter and a solid, "Are you kidding me!?" I've read a column where this was addressed. I'm not even sure the writer of it watches DAYS because, if they looked at the canvas, Salem is certainly not slacking in the senior set.
One thing I've always loved about DAYS is that it's a multigenerational show. When it premiered, the leads, Macdonald Carey and Frances Reid, were 52 and 51 years old, respectively, playing the slightly older Tom and Alice who would have been 55 and 54 in 1965 according to their profiles. In the early '80s, when I started to really remember the show, they were two of the first characters I fell in love with.
Fast-forward to now, and I believe Ron has done a fantastic job at continuing to put veteran and elderly characters into their own front-and-center storylines, as well as featuring them heavily in others. The guy even wrote in a cameo for his elderly father. He seems far from shirking the responsibility of representing the elderly. And he's -- let this one sink in -- continuing to support them during a pandemic and ensuring their safety with the rest of Team DAYS to keep them employed and their characters vibrant. That makes that article's question -- claim -- become even more laughable. I don't follow the other shows as closely, but does DAYS have an ageism problem? I don't know everything that goes on behind the scenes, but from what I can see on the screen, nope, not that I can tell.
In fact, that initial question immediately made me think of Susan Seaforth Hayes, for example. She's been featured in more storylines the past four years than she's had accumulated screen time in the past twenty. She's flourishing under Ron's tenure. I think Emmy nominations in 2018 and 2020 are proof of that. Just saying.
There's also the reality factor in all of this we could think about. DAYS may bring characters back from the dead as often as Brady goes through soul mates, but, unless we're talking de-SORAS-ing, characters age much like the people who portray them. If we're lucky enough to make it to a ripe old age, there'll likely be some health issues one must face. Respectfully depicting those kinds of issues on-screen is actual representation, so I'm not sure how that's a bad thing.
So, while I might not always agree with Ron's storyline directions and I might sometimes call him out, since, you know, opinion columnist an all, I certainly don't believe he's running around Burbank, shoving senior citizens into desks or twirling a handlebar mustache while maliciously cackling and pondering which elderly character he can kill off next. Ron seems like a genuinely good guy trying his best to do a job he loves, and, like all of us, he can't please everyone or hit a home run all the time. So, in my observation, maybe people should really stop and think before they Tweet hateful things to one another. Or to put it as bluntly as Kate did to Vivian, "Knock it off!" Disagree? Cool. Disrespect? Not cool. Kinda simple.
At the end of the day, I don't think Laura had to die, but her death certainly didn't have anything to do with the character's age. She did, as Susan may say, a "mean, mean, mean" thing to a person who is more than justified to be furious. Heck, even Laura's loved ones and her enemies (Hi there, Kate, I know you've been ready to gloat all column long) were all appalled by her actions. There's no painting this picture where Laura's the good guy in Gwen's life or generally in this storyline, and any apology is way too little and way too late. What she did was, as Jennifer said, "disastrous." Sure, no matter how enraged Gwen was, she shouldn't have laid hands on Laura, and she certainly shouldn't have maybe-or-maybe-not killed her, but Laura's legacy is what she made it. That's not anyone's fault but her own. I won't say she was old enough to know better, but as a psychiatrist, she was certainly educated enough to know the difference between right and wrong. She took the sleazy way out. Not cool, Doc Horton. Not cool.
Though, really. Everyone should chillax. Sure, Laura's dead today, but Dr. Rolf is still alive, he's kinda pals with Gwen, and, well, you know the rest. *whispers* Resurrection by Wilhelm. Added bonus? Sure! We avoided the ick-factor of Gwen being "Clark and Monica's" lovechild. There's that small victory. So, let's all eat more of those heart-shaped snacks and be nice. Deal?
Ready. Set. Go! Eli and Lani escaped and reunited with the twins, and Vivian is in jail. Okay then. That's that. And that was fast! The sweet scenes at the loft were worth it, though, and Kate and Vivian's certainly were, too! Their back-and-forth is always amazing, and still is with Linda Dano in the role! More on that later.
So, Philip got off scot-free. Victor settled the debt with la famiglia Vitali. Yep, that was another quick storyline wrap-up, but I'm also okay with this one. It only proves how powerful Victor still is, and, well, he's a sentimental softie, too. His stance on wanting Philip to stay was endearing. He didn't want to lose his son again. He doesn't know how long they have left and wants to cherish each moment. And he said, "I love you, son." Sure. Steve said a similar sappy thing to Tripp, but hearing that from curmudgeonly Vic was sweet.
Not so sweet on everything is Xander. He was a little, well, teensy-weensy bit infuriated to still be sharing the CEO spot. So much so, he quit! He's done. He's not going to take it anymore. I can't blame the guy. He has done a great job at Titan, as well as sleuthing to save the company. He's given Victor the better part of his sanity. It's time for him to move on unless Uncle Vic wants to serenade him with some sweet words as he did with Philip. Since it's Valentine's season, he could start with, "I love you, nephew. Thanks for always switching babies for me." Or just give him a bag of those little sugary Valentine's hearts with sayings on them.
What's next for the Xanimal then? Should he put his résumé in with Black Patch? Demand a cushy job with Basic Black. Create a cyber security company with cousin Shawn? Yes, please!
I don't mind Kate going back to DiMera Enterprises, yet I'd still like to see her start her own company and rival the houses that Stefano and Victor built. If anybody could do it, my money is on the fierce Ms. Roberts. Maybe Xander could help? In any event, go get 'em, Kate! #girlpower
Speaking of Kate getting them -- ha! I loved every second of her scenes with Laura. Kate's ambush starting with, "Going to ruin someone else's life?" was wonderful. Laura already looked so exhausted going into that battle, I nearly felt sorry for her. Nearly. Sure, Laura swung back, but still, the match went to Kate. She's always had to take it on the chin with Laura, but now they found themselves both down in the moral lowlands. With so much bitter history between them, I'm glad they had one final showdown.
Oh, fiddlesticks! It appears giving Philip and Ava a go at testing the romantic waters has sunk, I believe. I'm assuming so because...
Nicole wants Ava to stay with Rafe, huh? That doesn't sound like the beginning of a love triangle at all. Nope. Anyway. While I'd love Ivan to snatch David back from Zoey so we can regift him to Rafe, as daddy Hernandez was a happy dude, I don't mind him single and mingling around Salem, doing his job, hanging with friends, and so on. Rafe has been on a roll lately. Okay. Maybe he should get a pet instead of the teddy bear, though. That's verging on sad. A dog or cat, perhaps. Maybe a goldfish. Definitely not an orangutan. I say a pooch. He can name him "Luis" or something. Plus, Nicole loves dogs! RIP, Pookie.
If you are keeping track, so far, Nicole and Ava have promised that Charlie will pay. I feel like this list will grow next week. Just a hunch. Sorry, not sorry, Charlie.
Also, Ava simply stating, "Nope!" when Charlie walked in was everything. I need to borrow that. Like, a lot.
Good gosh. Kristen doesn't need to worry about Chloe spelling doom for her relationship. She's doing it herself. I don't think Brady's going to be thrilled when she jeopardizes their future once again by, well, once again breaking out of jail. Then again, I won't exactly be sad to see them separate. So, um, keep up the terrible ideas, Special K!
In happier couple news, Ben and Ciara have a psychic connection now and, via a dream, acted out key moments of Romeo and Juliet. Wait. I just poked fun at Passions a moment ago. I'm sorry, Harmony. Okay, so, I initially rolled my eyes a bit at this, thinking, "They don't need to act like an epic couple; they are one!" And you know, the extra cheese on the pizza and all made me groan a bit. Then, I heard Ben's reasons and thought they were clever. Fine, CIN. You win. Again. Carry on, you forlorn lovers. Carry on.
Finally, in the happiest couple news of them all, Steve and Kayla tied the knot. Again. Well, again, again. She was even quoted as saying, "This is the last time I'm doing this!" Preach, Sister Sweetness. If Marlena laid that claim, I'd call her a straight-up liar, but I almost believe Kayla, yet I digress, as we have recycled, biodegradable confetti to throw...
It was a sweet, small ceremony. Just Abe, Tripp, Sarah (of course -- what is she, chopped liver!? Aww), and the happy couple. I loved the lovefest between Steve and Tripp then Tripp and Kayla. The vows were perfectly personal and sincere. The yellow roses were a great nod to their history and made me happy. Tripp was beaming from ear to ear. Abe saved the day. It was all rather quick, but still delivered some much-needed love in the afternoon. Cheers to Stayla -- may this be the last knot you have to tie!
While Wallingford and Cass might be disappointed in their gal, I'm thoroughly enjoying Linda Dano as Auntie Viv. She's perfectly balancing that mix of sophisticated kookiness and slyly dangerous needed to pull off the character. I hope all Linda's worries have melted away, as she's certainly filling that Vivian-sized hole in my heart. Love. Her. And, more, please!
NOT HOT: PART DEUX
In the spirit of love and peace and understanding, since 'tis the Valentine's season, this week's "NOT" has been preempted by another "HOT," and that is that Arianne Zucker got to deliver a line about being "tired of hearing about boys being boys." Yes. Yes. All day, yes! Truer words, Nicole. Well played, DAYS!
LINE OF THE WEEK
Jake (to Vivian): "Whatever you say, Blanche. That's right. I took a theater class in high school."
TRUE 'DAT LINE OF THE WEEK
Kate: "This is unbelievable. This is so unbelievable. Laura Horton, who's always up on her high horse, lecturing everyone about their behavior, has misbehaved so badly. Wow. She's made a mess of everything."
EXCHANGE OF THE WEEK
Jennifer: "I can't believe you punched her."
Abigail: "I can't believe how good it felt."
Of course, Abe saved the day. He's awesome like that. That's why we always need more Abe.
I wonder if Ciara will have a psychic connection pregnancy? Hey. It's DAYS. Anything is possible.
Speaking of "anything is possible," did Eli and Lani's apartment grow a bedroom, or did they replace their bed with a sofa? I love their place, either way, but now I'm curious. Though, a bed in kitchen would make midnight snacks much easier to come by. They should rethink their decision.
Also, does one normally keep recently kidnapped babies by the front door? I am not a parent. I don't know these things. Conversely, I do keep keys, sunglasses, and outgoing mail in a basket by the door for quicker egress. I guess that's sort of the same thingy. Maybe.
I loved everything about Chad's epic slime fight with the kids, as well as how adorable he and Abigail were while discussing their "mini me"s so proudly.
I'm disappointed we missed a chance to visit with Stephanie and Joey. Between the two of them I'm sure there are a lot of wise, well-thought-out decisions we'd need to catch up on. I kid, I kid, but I do miss them, nonetheless.
Mark your calendars for Thursday! You'll want to celebrate with John and Marlena. That'll be the week anniversary of them getting food poisoning. I think they'll be serving thrice-reheated Claire casserole with Pepto Bismol pudding for dessert.
Hmm. Valerie mentioned Eli's nanny, Dana. That must mean something, right? Random name drops are usually not so random.
Steve asking Tripp, "Do you know how much you added to my life?" then mic dropping with, "I love you, buddy," was one of the sweetest father-and-son moments on DAYS in a long time. That Patch Man. Tugging at your heartstrings since 1985.
Still, Vic inched Steve out this week, only because we didn't know most of those kind words were in Mr. K's vocab. Okay. Well. Time to go listen to "Cats in the Cradle" and sob it out.
I love Claire, if for no other reason than she says things like, "It's so deeply weird, but..."
Um, why didn't Ciara go into the bathroom to call Ben once she stole the phone? Or dial the phone on speaker and set it in the open book to hide it? Or call 9-1-1 then Ben.
Brandon Barash cracks me up. Seriously. I really want Jake and Chad to work things out because Billy Flynn is just as funny, and if the DiMera brothers got along and had a laugh together, I think we'd all win.
Props to the lighting department! The Beneo and Ciaraiet death scene looked amazing. Cyber hat tips all around.
Each time I heard "Stefania," I thought "Stefani," which made me think of the movie Baby Mama and laugh. Or Gwen. Both, actually.
Val's "we" speech to Lani was heartwarming. It's nice to see them bonding.
Ava's line of, "Do you know how hard it is to be an embarrassment in my family?" would have been much funnier and more impactful had she not done something similar to Steve.
"Jarlena" having food poisoning on such a romantic day reminded me of that Sex and the City episode where something similar happens to Charlotte and Harry. It was hilariously sweet. And gross. But mostly hilarious.
Rhodes has a real Valentine's date, everyone. He does. His date is just running late because they're coming from Canada and had a supermodel photoshoot before, but that's okay, because Rhodes had to feed his pet llama, anyway. He's totally not eating a pint of ice cream and watching YouTube videos of shark attacks while standing at the kitchen counter. Nope. Not at all.
So, friends and fellow DAYS fans, that's it for February 15. I hope that everyone had a safe, loved-filled Valentine's Day! Mine's already complete, thanks to a large, heart-shaped box full of assorted chocolates that I received from a secret admirer who paid full price -- nope, that I impulse bought at the checkout line for half off. See. Doesn't have the same ring, but I digress again. The uber talented Laurisa's back next week and, as always, thank you for reading! And "That's a fact."
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